We are showing you the UK version of our site: would you prefer a different location?
May 15, 2009
After a scenic and mountainous four-hour drive from Dahlonega, Georgia to Asheville, North Carolina, we pull into the parking lot of Liberty Bicycles with most of the beautiful afternoon to spare. As luck would have it, Kevin, the service manger at Liberty and the host of tomorrow’s ride, is happy to lead us all on a light recovery ride. The shop is located a block from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so, he says, it only makes sense that we ride up to the top of Mount Pisgah. Our rest day has become nearly 4000' of climbing followed by a 30-minute downhill chase on the some of the curviest, darkest and most disorienting roads. Back in Liberty’s parking lot we make plans for dinner and our pre-ride breakdown. At no time during the pre-ride briefing is Stoney Fork road properly introduced.
The next day we ride Craggy Gardens. We average 17.5 mph, climb 8900' and it takes 5:50. It’s gorgeous and more epic than expected. The crux of the ride is its hardest climb, a 6-mile gravel road up to the Blue Ridge Parkway from the backside of the mountains. The road is called Stoney Fork.
Ben Lieberson: Stoney Fork is like Paris Roubaix only uphill. The 15% section a mile before the end is just cruel, and ridiculous. You can’t convey how hard it is - harder than Brass Town Bald that’s for sure. In fact, imagine if they ripped the pavement off Brass Town Bald and dumped a load of rocky gravel on it. Then made it three times as long, that’s what Stoney Fork felt like. In a word, that climb is traumatic.
Dan Langlois: It’s damp like a jungle and I could hear running water the whole time. The road was covered with soft gravel, really soft gravel. I kept sliding sideways to the low side of the road when the camber got steep in the apex of turns. There was no place to take a drink because I couldn’t risk my hands off the bars anywhere. Oh, and I was in my lowest gear right from the start, the whole way up I never shifted, not once.
Steve: I haven’t thought about not making it to the top of a climb in a long time. But today I did. It’s twice as hard as Brass Town Bald, it felt like we climbed hard for 40-minutes solid. On dirt. And the way we got started was horrible. Right as I looked up to see the pavement ending and the beginning of dirt, we were chased by two dogs, a pit-bull and the other Dan calls a ‘North Carolina Brown Dog’. Both were all teeth. So by the time we’re 100 feet in, I was already at my max and it just kept going, steeper and steeper and steeper.
- There are still a few of these sweet Rapha + Raeburn jackets at the SF @raphacycleclub. http://t.co/C2d98yCRL0
- The hills above. #raphasurvey http://t.co/jlIkXowxyT
- U23 winner in 2012 what's in store for @RichHandley90 in the @anpostras http://t.co/xyZWX3NbtG
- Sunday morning race day, church car park scene. @anpostras #ras2013 http://t.co/2E1UlfAxhe
- Will all these numbers be able to wear the coveted t-shirt in one weeks time? #menoftheras #ras2013 http://t.co/ai1oqnDIyh
- Team about to start the @anpostras probably the Worlds friendliest race.
- RT @nedboulting: Kristian House's Grandad was a fantastic man. He told me about him once. Then I read this: http://t.co/ZCeYbm4sFU
- @DeanHardman @nedboulting @j_t_locke such a shame...
- @TeamSkyGirl @nedboulting @j_t_locke we've asked JTL to change his name.
- RT @Ed_Clancy: Watch @raphacondor team mate Kristian House take another win (and lap me in the process) around his favourite circuit to…